Copied from www.StlToday.com
By Tim Bryant
Green Street Development plans to begin construction late this year on its redesigned Chouteau’s Grove, which no longer has the supermarket of the initial plan.
Brian Pratt, Green Street’s vice president of development, said Tuesday the company was unable to lure a grocery to the $61 million project planned for the eastern end of the Grove nightlife district in St. Louis.
Green Street pitched the site to “fresh grocery concept” operators but all replied the area needs more residents to support such a store, he said.
The redesigned Chouteau’s Grove has 271 market-rate apartments, about 20 more than the initial $85 million plan Green Street announced in November.
With a 30,000-square-foot grocery off the drawing board, Green Street revamped the 4.5-acre site to give the project a more urban look. Instead of having a parking lot to accommodate grocery customers, the new plan rings much of the site with a four-story apartment building that wraps around a parking garage.
“It will feel very urban, unlike an urban-suburban blend like we had before to attract a grocer,” Pratt said.
About 100 of the garage’s 565 parking spots will be set aside for the public and to serve the 20,000 square feet of retail space planned as part of the project’s new plan.
Humphreys & Partners, of Dallas, is the project’s architect. The firm also designed the Cortona apartments completed last year at the Highlands development near Forest Park. Like the Cortona, Chouteau’s Grove will have an exterior that includes fiber cement panels of various colors.
“We believe it will create a wonderful-looking urban project,” Pratt said.
Green Street has the site under contract from Commerce Bank and has demolished the vacant branch bank that was there. Commerce recently opened a new branch next door.
Brooks Goedeker, executive director of Park Central Development, the area’s development corporation, said Green Street’s project will pull the Grove eastward to Vandeventer Avenue and provide a citylike streetscape.
“It creates a ‘Main Street’ street wall that we’re looking for in the area,” he said. “It fills in more of the missing teeth in the Grove.”
Green Street’s initial plan was to seek tax-increment financing for the project. It dropped the TIF request when the grocery component fell through and will instead ask for 10 years of tax abatement, Pratt said.
Alderman Joe Roddy, whose 17th Ward includes the Grove, said a Chouteau’s Grove grocery might have produced enough tax revenue to support a TIF.
Pratt said he believes the Grove area within a few years will have enough residents to attract a major grocer. He said the approximately 350 Chouteau’s Grove residents will increase the area’s “buying power.”
“Eventually, the grocery will come,” he said. “At this point, the timing is a bit premature.”